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Commander Robert Peary’s diary, April 6, 1909

Robert Peary’s 1909 Arctic expedition was his fourth attempt to reach the North Pole. His diary entry for April 6, 1909, expressed amazement at having reached his goal. On his return to the United States, Peary submitted his data and instruments to a panel of the National Geographic Society to confirm his success.

Rear Admiral Robert E. Peary Papers, National Archives and Records Administration

Commander Robert Peary’s diary, April 6, 1909 Commander Robert Peary’s diary, April 6, 1909 (with excerpt highlighted)

The Discoverer of the North Pole

In the early twentieth century, explorers from many countries vied to reach the North Pole first. In 1909 two Americans, Dr. Frederick Cook and Commander Robert Peary, each claimed to have made the “discovery.” Though neither explorer could provide indisputable proof of reaching the geographic pole, Peary’s claim was more credible. In 1911, after holding hearings on Peary’s expedition, Congress honored Peary’s achievement and promoted him to rear admiral in the United States Navy. Today it is widely held that neither man actually reached the North Pole.

Your committee believe. . . . that Robert Edwin Peary has performed a most remarkable and wonderful service, . . . that therefore the American people, through its Congress, shall render him thanks, and bestow upon him the highest rank of the service which he adorns.

House Committee on Naval Affairs, Recognition of Robert Peary, January 21, 1911